UF’s research spending has reached a record high of $928.6 million.
This is an increase of 7.3 percent, or $63 million, from 2018, according to a report released Monday by UF from the National Science Foundation.
The foundation assembles survey responses from all research universities and publishes the results later in the year. In 2018, UF ranked 26th among public universities in research expenditures, according to the survey.
The research spending amount was funded based on awards received from public and private sources. A public source includes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the private source includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to Joe Kays, UF’s director of research.
The largest UF projects currently underway include a project to refine an inedible seed into a renewable jet fuel, a project to keep Zika and other diseases from gaining a foothold in the United States and a project to study a type of heart disease that primarily affects women.
Kays said that as the money UF is awarded increases, so does the university’s ability to spend on research and, in turn, benefits students.
Maya Jimenez, a 20-year-old UF biology junior, said the increased research funding and spending will help her to expand knowledge in her field through intense and extensive research opportunities that UF provides.
“Increasing funding would allow me to continue collecting data in my lab and hopefully get published on a research paper,” she said. “That would really strengthen my applications to vet school and set me on the right path.”
UF’s research spending has been steadily trending upward: $791.2 million in 2016; $801.4 million in 2017; $865 million in 2018; and $928.6 million in 2019.
The report does not focus on specific projects, but last year UF had about 100 new awards that exceeded $1 million, Kays said.
Before UF receives money for research, funding agencies ask for proposals in a certain area of science― like diabetes or cancer,―and then faculty from many institutions submit proposals, which are reviewed by experts and awarded based on the merits of the science being proposed.
Each research award includes a very specific budget for how the money is to be spent. UF Research has a team of people to help researchers manage grants according to that budget.
Engineering and computer sciences accounted for $121.2 million. Life sciences research, such as agriculture and health, accounted for most of the spending at $689.6 million, according to a release from UF.
“This funding allows our faculty to conduct research that leads to new discoveries,” Kays said.
Contact Christopher S. Cann at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @chrstophercann.